Match Report

Rublev Rallies To Maiden Masters 1000 Title

Fifth seed recovers 1-4 deficit in deciding set to claim title in Monaco
April 16, 2023
Corinne Dubreuil/ATP Tour
Andrey Rublev celebrates winning his 13th tour-level title and first ATP Masters 1000 crown in Monte-Carlo. By Sam Jacot

Andrey Rublev clinched his first ATP Masters 1000 title on Sunday when he overcame teenager Holger Rune 5-7, 6-2, 7-5 in the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters final.

In a clash between two of the biggest ball-strikers on the ATP Tour, it was the fifth seed who prevailed on a sunbathed Court Rainier III. Rublev struck 33 winners and rallied from 1-4 in the third set to earn the 13th and biggest title of his career after two hours and 34 minutes. Rublev sealed victory with his fifth ace of the match, dropping to the court in celebration.

"I have tears," Rublev said. "I don't know what to say to be honest. I don't know. I am just happy, finally. [I have] been struggling so much to win this freaking Masters 1000 tournament. Finally losing 4-1, Love-30, saving break points, thinking there is no chance to win, and somehow I did it."

With his 18th tour-level win of the season, Rublev improved to 1-2 in ATP Masters 1000 finals, having lost against Stefanos Tsitsipas in Monte-Carlo and Alexander Zverev in Cincinnati in 2021.

"I was hoping deep inside that at least maybe I would have one chance," Rublev said. "Maybe at least try to play until the end. Because I remember the previous finals mentally I was not ready and when I was thinking [I had] no chance to win anymore and I was going mentally completely down.

"And today I was at least [thinking], 'Okay, if you're going to lose today at least please believe until the end', and that is what I was trying to do in the third set, hoping that maybe I would have one extra chance to come back or something and in the end I was able to do it."

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The 25-year-old, who clawed past American Taylor Fritz in the semi-finals, has climbed seven spots to fifth in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin following his first tour-level title of the season.

The 19-year-old Rune was aiming to clinch his second ATP Masters 1000 crown after defeating five Top 10 opponents en route to the title in Paris last year. The Dane will now head to the ATP 250 event in Munich, where he is the defending champion, holding a 17-8 record on the season. Rune was the first teenager to reach the final in Monte-Carlo since a then-19-year-old Rafael Nadal lifted the trophy in 2006.

The sixth seed is up two spots to No. 7 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings following the run to his first final of the year.

First-Time ATP Masters 1000 Champions Since Start of 2022

Andrey Rublev
Monte-Carlo 2023
Holger Rune
Paris 2022
Borna Coric
Cincinnati 2022
Pablo Carreno Busta
Montreal 2022
Carlos Alcaraz
Miami 2022
Taylor Fritz
Indian Wells 2022

With Formula 1 star Charles Leclerc watching on, both players made a fast start to the first Masters 1000 clay-court final of the season. Rune and Rublev both looked to take large cuts at the ball with their aggressive groundstrokes, with the former using the drop shot in the first set effectively to disrupt Rublev’s rhythm.

The Dane, who sunk Jannik Sinner in the semi-finals, saved seven of the eight break points he faced in the first set, frustrating Rublev before breaking the fifth seed in the 12th game of the set to lead.

Rublev was quick to respond in the second set, though. He won 90 per cent (9/10) of his first-serve points and was more clinical in the big moments on return, forcing Rune deep with his power to break twice and level.

The Dane raced into a 3-0 lead in the third set, hitting with fierce accuracy on return to gain the initiative. However, from 1-4, Rublev worked his way back into the match. He fended off two break points at 1-4 and then clawed himself level with aggressive hitting. At 5-5, Rune gifted Rublev the decisive break when he struck a double fault at 30/40. Rublev then closed out on serve to improve to 2-1 in his ATP Head2Head series against Rune.

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